Kevin Harvick Taking over the Reigns HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 23, 2003) - When it comes to restrictor-plate racing, no one racing organization has dominated the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in recent years like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI). ...
Taking over the Reigns
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 23, 2003) - When it comes to restrictor-plate racing, no one racing organization has dominated the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in recent years like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI). This season, however, a new organization has shown it's got what it takes to unseat DEI. Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. (RCR), with GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick at the helm, is reemerging as a contender at the biggest race tracks the series visits throughout the year.
In the three races run at Daytona, Fla., and Talladega, Ala., this season, the 2001 Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year averaged a fifth place finish, including two top-fives, three top-10s and a career-best runner-up finish at Talladega's 2.66-mile superspeedway in April.
"We really had a chance to win all three of the superspeedway races this year," says Harvick, who's led a combined 64 laps at restrictor-plate races in 2003. "We were up there in front with Dale Jr. in Talladega and I ended up pushing him to the front because we didn't have enough to get by him. At Daytona, the rain ruined our chances in the (Daytona) 500, and we probably had the best car in July, but we couldn't afford to take a chance on fuel like those guys in the back did. There's no doubt we'll be in the hunt again come Sunday."
Recent success for Harvick across the board, backed by RCR horsepower, make them a credible force to take over as the new kings of restrictor-plate racing. The GM Goodwrench Chevy and RCR scored nine wins at Talladega over a 16-year span with Dale Earnhardt. Harvick would like to add his name to that list, and the EA Sports Thunder 500 would be the perfect venue to do it.
No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on Talladega...
How is Talladega different from Daytona? "Talladega is a lot wider. There's no handling involved, it's just pretty much pedal to the medal and go. You try to trim the car around as much as you can to try and make it go as fast as it can. It's so wide, you can run three and four wide pretty easily."
What's your outlook on the season so far? "Each year our goal is to do what we need to do to try and win the championship. The only way you can do that is to position yourself throughout the year to overcome the circumstances that present themselves. I think our organization, from the body shop to the fabrication shop to the engine shop, has really stepped it up and made it easier on the drivers to go out there and do what we need to do. We've been extremely successful in recent weeks, and I see that momentum carrying us through the rest of the year."
How do you manage the fuel at superspeedways? "That all comes from the shop. You prepare as good a fuel cell as you can. With the smaller fuel cells, you have to make a lot of pit stops. We'll try our best not to get caught up off-sequence like we did in Daytona. That's really frustrating because we were running so well in that race."
What do you think of the new pit road and yellow flag rule changes? "I think they're actually a little overdo. If Dale Jarrett would have caught fire in Loudon (N.H.) a few weeks ago, it could have been a real mess with everybody racing back to the caution flag. NASCAR definitely needed to make some sort of call on this with all the confusion we've had over it this season. As far as pit road, those crewmembers are helpless out there when there's a 3,400-pound car coming at them. The single-file pit road keeps everything a little bit smoother and safer for those guys so they don't have to worry about anything but doing their jobs."
Is there a way to avoid the big wreck at Talladega? "Be out front. Even then you are vulnerable, though. We saw that last year in the Busch race when Johnny (Sauter) sat on the pole and got caught up in a huge mess on the backstretch. Hopefully, our car is a little bit better than it was last time so we can make that pass for the win."
No. 29 GM Goodwrench crew chief Todd Berrier on Talladega...
Can you be as good at Talladega as you were in the spring? "We should be. We're taking the same car back and we haven't done much with it. Talladega is all about pure speed. You don't have to worry about the handling much at all, just stick on the body you got. It's more about the horsepower. That will make the biggest difference."
Points of Interest...
* Team GM Goodwrench will take back chassis No.81 to Talladega for this weekend's Winston Cup race. This chassis, used extensively throughout the 2002 season, is the same one they used at all three superspeedway races this year.
* With his fourth place finish in Sunday's MBNA American 400, Harvick jumped up one spot to second in the NASCAR Winston Cup driver points standings. He's accumulated 1,581 points in the last 10 races, more than anyone else in the top-10.
* When it comes to leading laps, the 27-year old Bakersfield, Calif., native is starting to find his niche. Harvick, who led the most laps last weekend at the monster mile, has held the point position at least once in seven of the last eight races.
* Start time for Sunday's EA Sports Thunder 500 is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET. TV coverage of the race on NBC starts at 1:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 1:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.